Even with all of the hullaballoo surrounding the Super Bowl this year there were still awards handed out the day before. Boston College standout and the ninth overall pick, Luke Kuechly, got the top honors for a defensive rookie this year. Kuechly became the third Carolina Panther player to win the AP Rookie honors, Defensive or Offensive, coming behind Julius Peppers in 2002 and Cam Newton last year. He also gave the Carolina Panthers the honor, or infamous honor, of being the fourth team in NFL history to win consecutive AP Rookie of the Year awards.
Kuechly had this to say about during his acceptance speech, “”These honors tonight are individual awards, but football is such a team game that you’ve got to thank the guys around you, the D-line plays such an integral part in being a successful linebacker. It’s important to give some thanks to them and to the coaches and all the players, and most importantly to my family for making this possible.”
Jon Beason had this to say about his replacement at Middle Linebacker, in an interview with the Official Panthers website, “He did it flawlessly. I can’t say enough about him, Luke’s a great player, and his preparation is what sets him apart. His instincts and football IQ are just through the roof.”
Kuechly rounded out the season with a league leading 164 tackles, 1 sack, 2 interceptions, and 3 recovered fumbles. He apparently also had 205 stops, according to coaches’ review, a franchise record. A stop is a stat that I didn’t realize was recorded.
Rounding out the award winners were Adrian Peterson winning MVP and Offensive Player of the Year. Peyton Manning won the Comeback Player of the Year, J.J. Watt won the Defensive Player of the Year, and RGIII took over for Cam Newton winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Dallas Cowboys Tight End Jason Witten received the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, given to him for his integrity and charitable actions off the field.
So cheers to Luke Kuechly, a Carolina Panther that all fans should be proud of! Personally I can’t wait to see his contributions to the team next year with the return of Jon Beason, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.